Julie Selwyn’s groundbreaking report into adoption breakdown found that around one third of adoptions pass smoothly, around a third of families were mostly getting on OK but with ups and downs, and the other third were having significant difficulties. If you’ve found it as far as my website then I’m assuming you’re probably not in the first third, and if that’s the case you may well be interested in what Sally Donovan has to say in her latest book: The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting, The Teen Years.
Picking up where the earlier guide left off, Sally’s children are now very definitely teenagers, and she shares the wisdom and advice that she has accumulated and tested in the safety of her home. (Yes – there is an emphasis on ensuring that home is a safe place for all.) The material is distinctly heavy at times, but the tone is light in a way that does not minimize the issues but makes it possible to read without running away in horror. There is a focus particularly on the continuing and damaging impact of trauma, which is amplified by the teenage brain’s rewiring exercise; and also on the realities of the internet and social media – a foreign country for most parents even now. Separate chapters cover siblings, education, self-care, and practical tips for family and professionals. The really scary stuff, which you hope will not affect most families, has its own chapter, for those who want or need to know about the grooming of vulnerable young people, and exploitation within the drugs world; as does the realities of supporting a young person when they have to move out into independent living.
There are images and ideas that will stick with me for a long time, and teasers too. I will never look at a North Face jacket in the same way again, and I will drink herbal tea in future with a little more irony!
Sally is keen that there should be hope shining through and I believe she has achieved this; but for hope to survive, there needs to be understanding from friends, family and professionals, walking alongside. If more people read books such as this, then this hope can live.
Sally and I met recently at the Jessica Kingsley Publishers headquarters, to record a podcast for subscribers to the JKP newsletter. You can listen to our discussions here.
The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting, The Teen Years
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019